Two papers win awards at SPE Automotive Composites event

TROY—The organizing committee for the SPE Automotive Composites Conference &  Exhibition (ACCE) honored the Best Paper Award winners for the group’s 20th annual program at their virtual event Sept. 9-11.

The two authors who received the highest average ratings by conference peer reviewers out of a field of 40 contenders were honored for excellence in technical writing and will receive a plaque to commemorate their achievement.

Ethan Watt, a fourth-year undergraduate student studying nanocomposites at the University of Guelph’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre won first place in this year’s competition. His studies focus mainly on physical chemistry and material science. His area of focus at the Bioproducts Discovery & Development Centre is composite research, with particular interest in the incorporation of biocarbon and nanofillers into polymeric matrices.

Sandeep Tamrakar, a research engineer at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, was recognized as ACCE Best Paper Award runner up. Sandeep Tamrakar is a Research Engineer at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center. His research interests include natural fiber reinforced composites, fiber matrix interfaces, viscoelastic behavior and durability analysis of polymer composites. Tamrakar earned a Master of Science degree from University of Maine and a PhD degree in Civil Engineering from University of Delaware.

Ethan Watt. SPE photo.

Watt’s paper was titled “Influence of Soy Hull Based Biocarbon and Graphene Nanoplatelets on the Performance of Polypropylene.” Said Watt: “Polypropylene (PP) shows wide usage in the automotive industry, owing to its strength, chemical resistance, and processing ease. The movement away from petroleum dependence has led to research into sustainable fillers to partly replace the PP matrix, with biocarbon (BioC) being of particular interest. However, this filler commonly diminishes mechanical strength, and to address this the compatibilizer maleic anhydride grafted polypropylene (MA-PP), as well as the nanomaterial graphene nanoplatelets (GnPs), were incorporated as a second filler. … Overall, these biocomposites provide a direction to the improvement of PP properties while simultaneously decreasing its petroleum content, making them ideal for automotive applications.”


Sandeep Tamrakar. SPE photo.

Tamrakar’s paper was titled “Water Absorption Behavior of Recycled PP and PA6 Composites Reinforced with Natural Fibers.” About this topic, he said: “The recyclability of natural fiber and glass fiber reinforced polypropylene composites and glass fiber reinforced nylon composites have been studied through injection molding and mechanical grinding. Mechanical properties of virgin and recycled composites were assessed through flexural, tensile, and impact tests. No significant degradation in the mechanical properties of natural fiber composites was observed after subjecting the composites through several rounds of recycling and water absorption at ambient temperature in tap water. However, severe degradation in the mechanical properties was observed for glass fiber composites.”

This year’s ACCE was a virtual event due to CDC recommendations for social distancing due to COVID-19. The three-day event featured two keynotes, two panel discussions, 40 technical presentations, and 23 sponsors presenting advances in materials, processes, and equipment for both thermoset and thermoplastic composites in a wide variety of transportation applications. Daily virtual networking opportunities enhanced the value of the event that drew over 500 attendees worldwide.

The Automotive and Composites Divisions of the Society of Plastics Engineers jointly produce the ACCE to educate the industry about the benefits of composites in automotive, light and heavy-duty truck, off-highway vehicles, and other ground transportation applications.

Sponsors for the SPE ACCE 2020 Virtual Event Included:

Premier Plus Sponsors: BASF, Ford Motor Company, Hexagon/MSC Software, Hexion, Zoltek/Toray Group.

Premier Sponsors: 3M, BYK Additive & Instruments, Composites One, Lotte Chemical, Michelman, Schmidt & Heinzmann.

Associate Sponsors: Ashland Adhesives, Avient (formerly PolyOne), A Plus Datapoint Labs, Dieffenbacher, DSC Consumables, Fraunhofer/Western University, Johns Manville, Magna, Moldex 3D.

Contributor Sponsors: American Chemistry Council Plastics Division, Dassault Systemes, IACMI The Composites Institute.

Held annually in suburban Detroit, the ACCE in-person events typically draw over 800 speakers, exhibitors, sponsors and attendees and provide an environment dedicated solely to discussion, education and networking about advances in transportation composites. Its global appeal is evident in the diversity of exhibitors, speakers, and attendees who come to the conference from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia/Pacific as well as North America. About one-third of attendees work for automotive and light truck, agriculture, truck & bus or aviation manufacturers, and another 25 percent represent tier suppliers. Attendees also work for composite materials processing equipment, additives, or reinforcement suppliers; trade associations, consultancies, university and government labs; media; and investment banks.

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